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Stacey Hand – A Certified Validation Teacher

Stacey Hand is a Certified Validation Teacher in Shreveport, Louisiana.  She is the Dementia Educator with The Bridge Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center.  She conducts community Validation workshops and trains support group leaders for the Bridge.  During their 3rd annual caregiver conference in November, Stacey presented a breakout session: “Choosing the Right Care Environment: Navigating the Different Levels of Care”.  She shared her knowledge and expertise in independent senior living and long-term care over the past decade.  

There are several different forms of community living available to us as we age, but choosing the right one for each individual or couple is often difficult.  Our topic today covered the pros and cons of each type of community, and the services that are provided.

Staying at home: means no mortgage (we hope!), familiarity, memories, privacy, independence and the ability to keep our pets.  It also can mean additional expenses in the form of maintenance and upkeep, as well as loneliness, lack of support, and if in-home care is needed, it can be prohibitively expensive.

Independent Living communities offer social engagement, usually some or all meals, as well as transportation support, privacy, low cost, an ability to keep your vehicle, reduced expenses and the option to keep medium to small pets. On the other hand it also comes with rules, less space and possibly communal laundry rather than personal.  Assisted living means no cleaning or maintenance responsibilities, all meals provided, ability to a keep vehicle and drive, and tiered levels of available support including help with bathing, dressing, medication management, health checks, continence care and social and creative activities. But, it also means less space and privacy, is more expensive and generally allows only small pets, if at all.

Long term (or skilled nursing) care means that almost all services and supplies are provided, including transportation to all medical appointments.  There is 24 hour/day supervision and medical support, on-site doctors visits are available as well as planned activities.  This is the most expensive option with the exception of full-time in-home care.  There is very little privacy, fewer choices and most facilities do not allow pets.  

Memory care may be available in either assisted living or long term care settings.  It may be provided within the general population of a LTC facility with the use of some type of wander-guard system, or may be provided in a secure unit at either the assisted living or LTC level.

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to choosing the environment for an older adult.  Considering the individual preferences and needs of both the older adult and his or her family members is an important step in this process and should spark lively discussion as well as visits to multiple environments and campuses!